Why Media Companies Are Rediscovering Event Marketing

By Lesa Ukman Mar 7, 2016

Why Media Companies Are Rediscovering Event Marketing

From Fast Company, GeekWire and The Next Web, to Condé Nast, Gannett and Tribune Publishing Co., countless media leaders are upping their use of events. And this number will only increase.

HubSpot’s Digital Publishing Benchmarks Report reveals that over one-third of publishers think events as a revenue source are poised to increase most in value over the next two years.

Time Inc.’s 2016 10-K filing says it will continue cutting people, business units and products, but it also highlights areas it is investing in: data for better ad targeting, branded content, video and live events.

This activity comes off of two years of noteworthy growth in the event space and robust merger-and-acquisition activity. For example:

  • In 2015, Time purchased the 65-person events agency INVNT, as well as UK Cycling Events, and sports and entertainment network FanSided
  • Condé Nast, owner of Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Wired and other publications, acquired Pitchfork, the online magazine perhaps best known for its eponymous music festivals in Chicago and Paris
  • Gannett is taking the Arizona Republic’s successful Arizona Storytellers Project to papers in nine other markets.

Reasons for the increased interest in events include:

  • Low borrowing costs
  • Attractive investment characteristics, such as good cash flow, good margins and no or low risk on receivables
  • New and non-traditional revenue streams, such as sponsorship and ticket sales
  • Ability to attract new, often younger audiences
  • Source of audience data collection that enables retargeting and more opportunities for personalization
  • Ability to build awareness of verticals. For example, New York magazine launched Vulture Festival as an outgrowth of its entertainment site, which has more than 10 million readers. Vulture Festival is a moneymaker, with 18 ticketed events curated by editors and 15 sponsors

Thought-leading media executives heading to Chicago April 17-20 to lead sessions at Disrupt, IEG’s 2016 conference, include:

  • John Cook, cofounder of GeekWire, which has a portfolio of events ranging from a celebration of local startups to an annual ping-pong tournament for 2,000 paying attendees. That portfolio generates low seven figures in sponsorship revenue annually. Cook says events helped propel GeekWire to profitability within a year of its launch in 2011
  • Erica Boeke, head of strategic brand experiences at Condé Nast, and recently associate publisher at Fast Company, where she managed the magazine’s sponsorship of events like SXSW—where it hosted the Fast Company Café and brought in advertisers as cosponsors—as well as oversaw creation of owned events that were a profit center for the company
  • Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications, who has built upon the longstanding success of the Essence Music Festival by turning it into a content creator for the magazine and for brand partners
  • Todd Arata, vice president of brand marketing, Comcast Cable, who will discuss media companies as sponsors, through the lens of its partnership with Taylor Swift’s The 1989 World Tour
  • Archie Dixon, director, sponsorship sales & strategy, BET Networks, who will discuss successfully buying and selling multiplatform programs
  • Haley Carlson and Katie Barrons of Tower Events Group, Tribune Publishing Co.’s revitalized event production and management arm

To see more details about these and other conference speakers and sessions, visit


IEG conference trends IEG 2016



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<a href=""></a> 8/22/2017 3:01 PM
lawe dsdds 8/22/2017 3:00 PM
Yes this would be crazy <a href=""></a>
Yvonne Rivers 3/15/2016 12:40 PM
Always an awesome event. be there to LEARN

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